Smaller rate hike approved for Hawaii insurer

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HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii's insurance commissioner has approved a smaller rate increase than what was requested by the state's largest health insurer.

Commissioner Gordon Ito announced Friday that his office approved an 8.9 percent increase in premiums for Hawaii Medical Service Association.

The insurance company had asked for an average premium rate increase of 13.1 percent across plans.

Ito's office says about 5 percent of the increase is for medical costs and 4 percent is for fees related to the federal health care overhaul.

Elisa Yadao of Hawaii Medical Services Association says the company based its request on informed calculations about future costs. She says changes in the Affordable Care Act are creating uncertainty.

Ito says the state needs to work aggressively to reduce health care costs so premiums don't rise every year.

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